A Punny Sculpture

In Seoul, about an hour’s walk south of Itaewon, is a little park. Its only neighbors are a U.S. army base (which is, of course, surrounded by high walls) and a desolate overpass. And, since it’s still winter here, everything is still brown and dead.

Thanks to all of this, the sculptures were the only things that were noteworthy about this park. One sculpture in particular really stuck with me.


“Hand made in Korea.”

…Well played, Korea, well played.


Thanks for reading,


The Gamcheon Culture Village

After Jagalchi Market, we randomly decided to go check out the Gamcheon Culture Village. And, after seeing that the village was nestled in the foothills of a mountain, we knew that a bus was the way to go.

Like many Korean bus drivers, this one wasn’t screwing around. Standing in the aisle was like standing at the top of a ship’s mast during a major storm at sea. We were physically thrown back and forth as he weaved the bus up, up up the mountain. (We couldn’t stop laughing during that entire ride.)

By the time we reached the village, I was tired and grinning. The grin only got wider once I began to see the buildings.


The Gamcheon Culture Village is actually a residential area, so it’s a nice and quiet place. The main alley/pathway stretches around the edge of the valley, with many additional side-alleys to explore. One alley we found led us up to a rooftop that was perfect for pictures.

There are also several small shops (I FINALLY found a funky Korean sock store), art galleries, and street food places. The “Grand Budapest Doll Hotel” wasn’t open on the day we were there, so I left that particular part with more questions than answers. (Maybe it’s better that way.)

All in all, it was a great place to spend an afternoon, watching the sun set on all of those colorful buildings.

Thanks for reading,


The Pyeongchang Olympics

It’s relatively rare to have the opportunity to go to the Olympics in person.

So….we went.


The big, wide-open spaces at the Coastal Cluster were a little surreal. I’m so used to being surrounded by bustling crowds and buildings that I didn’t really know what to do with all of the extra room!

I experienced the same feeling at the Kwandong Hockey Centre (which was inexplicably located about 10 km south of the Coastal Cluster). We were excited and got there early, so the openness was even MORE apparent.


While we were waiting for the queue to open, we passed the time by talking to an older Japanese man about American baseball. He and I have both been to the Royal’s stadium in Kansas City. It’s a small world.


It was so exciting to be inside the hockey arena. These first few pictures make it seem like no one was there, but the space gradually filled up over time.


After a while, we sneakily moved over to join a friend in the actual cheering section. It was tremendous to be suddenly surrounded by passionate fans who were all yelling things in Finnish and Swedish.

Finland ended up cheering more often than Sweden, since Finland basically killed Sweden at that game (7-2 was the final tally). (Sorry, Sweden!! I was rooting for you.)


Later that night, we went to see Women’s Skeleton at the Mountain Cluster. We had to literally walk up a mountain for 30 minutes to get there, but the effort was worth it. Where else was I going to be able to see a bunch of British fans screaming in delight as they watched their athletes win the gold and bronze?


Lizzy Yarnold leapt into the crowd to hug her family after she won her second gold in this sport. It was a remarkable moment to see.

I happened to be standing near one of her family members right after that moment had passed. I smiled and motioned for her to start breathing regularly again. She laughed, put a hand on her chest, and simply said, “My NERVES.”

Ah, the British.



I’m so glad I went to Pyeongchang. I’ve already used this adjective today, but “tremendous” truly describes my time at the Olympics.

(Not to mention the tremendous hats I bought at the super store!)


Happy Olympics, and thanks for reading,



Oeam Folk Village

Oeam Folk Village is in Asan, making it an easy day-trip for us here in Cheonan.


I hadn’t yet seen a folk village in the wintertime, so off I went with my friends one fine, cold afternoon.

Being a traditional village, it was very quiet when we pulled into the small parking lot. A few ducks floated in the river, but that was the only source of movement at first.

After purchasing tickets, we made our way across the bridge to the village itself. We began seeing a few more people, but everyone continued to talk in quieter tones. No one yelled the entire time we were there.

The village is remarkably preserved. We passed water mills, totem poles, and numerous thatched-roof houses.


We did find some locals eventually. A big group of them were having a barbecue as we walked past their area. The juxtaposition between modern cars and the ancient buildings was a striking one.

Cold, quiet, and fascinating: a perfect day spent in Asan.

Thanks for reading,



Jagalchi Market

You can smell Jagalchi Market long before you can see it.

The rows aren’t narrow, but they sure as hell feel cramped with all of the people packed in like….well, like sardines in a can.

Every vendor had their own style when it came to displaying their wares, and it was fascinating to note the differences. I noted them quickly, though; in an area this packed, it’s important to keep moving.


We briefly walked inside to check out the actual Jagalchi Market, but were quickly intimidated by all of the vendors. They bounce up to you with a big smile, gesturing at their table and menus, exclaiming that their fish was the best fish at the market.

It wasn’t long before we decided to head back outside, but I’m glad that we took a peek anyway.

Back outside again, we headed to the edge of the market to see if we could spot the Gamcheon Culture Villiage. And, lo and behold, we could!


Those buildings in the distance =Gamcheon Culture Village

We walked through the market area one more time as we headed toward our new target. Pretty soon we were walking in an open area again, surrounded by concrete, buildings, and cars.

Still, the smell of fish lingered long after the sounds of the market had vanished behind us.

Thanks for reading,


Haeundae Beach (In Winter)

Nowadays, as I trudge through the snow on my way to work, with my entire body covered in layer after layer of clothing, I can’t help but think back to my time in Busan.

It was much warmer there, for one thing.


The view from our guesthouse


It was the middle of winter, yet I could walk around with a light jacket and feel perfectly fine. Each morning, I could stick my head out of our window to take in the view without letting bitterly cold air into our room.

The market right outside of our hostel was always bustling with activity. We walked past countless piles of oranges, many bright-blue fish tanks, and buckets full of sardines that were still squirming. Food vendors added smells of baked and fried goods to this mix.

My friend Annie had the foresight to snag us a guesthouse* that was right next to the beach. I was skeptical prior to our arrival.

Annie: “We’ll be so close to the beach!”

Me: “…Yeah, in the middle of winter…?” 


Haeundae Beach

Clearly, my skepticism didn’t hold water once I saw the beach.


Visiting this beach in the wintertime = fewer people there overall. This meant two things:

  1. It was much quieter than it would have been in the summertime.
  2. Fewer people there meant fewer people to laugh at us as we took off our shoes and stepped into that freezing, unmerciful water. (So cold, and lots of shrieking involved, but so worth it.)

And, after drying our feet off, it was time to go check out the lights.

Stay warm out there, and thanks for reading,




*King Kong Guesthouse — I recommend it

A Remnant Blog Post from NYC

I recently rediscovered an old post that I was going to share two years ago. Now that I’m happily living in Korea, it feels appropriate to post it here. The juxtaposition is striking.

It begins below.


Walking around New York at night is an odd experience because it never truly feels like nighttime. Manhattan, true to its reputation, is a constant bustle of activity and noise (even when you drift away from the tourism hell that is Times Square), with honking cars and people screaming out the stress they’ve kept bottled up until 3 a.m. Even out here in Queens, the neighborhoods don’t feel sleepy. Powered down, but not completely off.

New York’s overachieving nature can take most of the credit for this restlessness, I think. None of us feel rested because we aren’t supposed to be resting. We live in the city that’s defined by its Ambition — that great pillar of achievement. And Ambition implies work, and struggle, and crawling up out of the muck. There isn’t much time to sleep when you’re constantly scrabbling to survive. Just ask the subway rats.

Another thing we have in common with the subway rats: neither of us ever bother to look up. Especially at night.

I come from Lincoln, Nebraska — Nebraska’s capital, and therefore a large place…by Nebraskan standards. It’s not large enough to blot out the night sky. Not enough pollution there.

Once, I went camping with friends up in Valentine, Nebraska, where it felt like we had traveled to the edge of the world. The night sky there was incredible. Rich blues and purples mixing with the black emptiness of space. The Milky Way stretching across the expanse. And more stars. Countless stars.

Meanwhile, in New York, the stars are hidden. As I walk around Queens this evening, I count three stars in total. And….actually, one of those stars is actually a plane.

The lack of stars here makes it easy to forget how small you are in comparison to everything. Even in NYC, the city known for making people feel small and unimportant, it’s easy to develop a sense of tunnel vision. Upstate New Yorkers joke that city folk forget about the world beyond NYC, and they’re right. We live in The Greatest City In The World, and therefore think we’re special. We may spend most of our evenings eating pre-packaged foods whilst using our roommate’s HBO account because we can’t afford our own…instead of throwing parties at our Manhattan penthouse after attending 6 Broadway shows (one for each night of the week, because we’re worth it) but, god dammit, we’re here, and that’s so much better than being there, right?

The trouble with this attitude is that there contains many possibilities as well. Stars may remind me of how small I am, but they also point out my potential. The universe is vast — there’s so many places I could go, so many things I could do. There’s more to life than here, even if that here is New York.

To put it plainly — I miss stars.

And that is why, after about two years, I have decided to leave New York.


If you’re feeling restless tonight and have the means to do so, take a minute and go outside. And look up.


Keep looking up, and thanks for reading,


Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

I expected to be deeply impressed by Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. It was the first item on my to-do list for Busan. Everything else would be a pleasant bonus to the trip, but the temple? A must-see.

Now that I’ve seen it, I’m struggling to pick which synonym best describes how I felt as I stood there, watching people move about the temple as the waves crashed all around us. Awed? Affected? Struck? Moved? Inspired?


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love the ocean

One of the greatest things about this temple is that its entrance is very pleasant and unassuming. The area right along the coastline can take your breath away, but the journey begins in a forested area full of sculptures and statues. It’s quiet. The wind rustles. Birds chirp to each other. People murmur amongst themselves as they examine the statues.


This is, of course, a religious site first and foremost. Still, I can’t help but appreciate the sense of anticipation and drama I felt as I made my way down the steps with the rest of the crowd. The trees blocked our view, so our mutual eagerness was practically visible in the air.


When I caught my first glimpse of the temple, I began grinning from ear to ear. I had faith that the full view of it would live up the hype.


My faith was rewarded.


After marveling at the view for a while, it was time to cross the bridge over to the actual temple. I stopped only to take a photo of the statues beneath the bridge. They held their bowls aloft, meant for visitors’ coins. Several people stayed on the bridge to try their luck (and their aim) before continuing on their way. People cheered whenever someone succeeded in tossing a coin into one of the bowls.


Many people were there, but the area never felt crowded to me.


There was a staircase close to the Buddha statue that led up to a higher viewing point, too.


It started to rain, but it was clear that nobody minded getting a little damp. We all began to leave only when the cracks of thunder began drowning out the sound of the ocean waves.


Even with the (eventual) pouring rain, it was a peaceful morning. A perfect start to my time in Busan.


Thanks for reading,


Missing Fall in Asan

Now that we’re well into January, I find myself missing fall weather again. Today I was thinking back to a time in Asan when colorful leaves covered the ground instead of cold, damp slush.

A group of friends and I had gone to Asan that morning to run a 5K. It was my first time in Asan. The weather was perfect: sunny, yet cold. And the trees were wondrous.

We were running late and therefore in a bit of a rush, but I still tried to snap photos as we made our way to the starting line.

The sun stayed high and bright in the sky during the race. No wind, either, which was a godsend once we reached the point where we were running alongside the river instead of beneath the trees.


Coffee was a must after the race. And, of course, there was a coffeeshop right near the finish line.


The view from my seat in the coffeeshop

It was a good race and a great day spent with friends. I miss fall.

Thanks for reading,


Namsan Seoul Tower

I decided to take the cable car to Namsan Seoul Tower so that I could get the full ~experience~ my first time around.

Of course, this meant that I stood in line for well over an hour because I was a foolish woman who did not plan ahead. I hadn’t gotten a ticket beforehand AND I showed up at one of the most popular times for the cable car. (Nighttime. Gotta love those city lights, right?)

The line was pretty chill, yet it was still a looooooong line. I stared at the same two advertisements (pictured below) for an hour. I am not joking.


At least they were friendly looking men. And there’s a convenience store set up on one of the upper floors for people (like me) who didn’t pack snacks for the wait. Well done again, Korea. Well done indeed.

Anyway, eventually I made it to the front of the line. We were ushered inside the cable car and packed in like sardines, but no one complained. The mutual feeling of anticipation was practically palatable at that point.


The car ride was smooth. Tree branches rustled as we passed between them. Everyone kept giggling, softly gasping in awe, or talking in hushed tones as we coasted up toward our goal.

Then, at last, the cable car stopped and we got out. After walking up some stairs, we had made it to the base of the tower.


I immediately headed to the right, assuming that I just needed to go toward the lights in order to find the best viewing spots.

A short while later, I found my spot.


I’m very glad I went up there at night. The view of the city was spectacular, of course, and there was more to see around the tower itself, too. Everything was lit up beautifully, including the love locks that covered most of the railings. In one area, they also had tree-like sculptures with even more love locks attached to them.


In the end, I decided not to pay extra to go up into the tower because I was content with the view I got from the tower’s base. Maybe I’ll do that next time.

And there will be a “next time.” After all, I tried the cable car at night, but I still haven’t experienced the hike up Namsan Mountain during the day. Just another item on my vacationing to-do list…


Thanks for reading,